A number of NBA contracts include player options in the final year. Those option years give the player the opportunity to either opt into the final year of his deal, finishing out his contract, or to decline the option and hit the free agent market a year early.
In 2016 and 2017, as the salary cap spiked, only eight of 53 veterans who held player options on their contracts actually exercised those options. Half of those eight players (Tim Duncan, Caron Butler, Mo Williams, and Spencer Hawes) didn’t play a single NBA minute after picking up their options, having either retired or been waived. Another one of the eight (Chris Paul) only opted in because it cleared the way for him to be traded to his preferred destination.
However, the pendulum swung back in the other direction in 2018. With the cap increasing by smaller margins following 2016’s leap, and a number of recently-signed contracts turning into player-friendly – rather than team-friendly – deals, 20 of the 28 veterans who held player options for 2018/19 exercised those options.
That trend figures to continue this year. Although there are some marquee players who will certainly opt out in search of a raise and a longer-term commitment, many of the guys making option decisions are unlikely to do better on the open market than they will if they simply opt in.
This year’s player options are listed below. Option decisions are due by the end of the day on June 29 unless a player’s contract specifically calls for an earlier deadline, so we’ll continue to update this list through to note the latest decisions.
- Goran Dragic, Heat ($19,217,900)
- Kyrie Irving, Celtics ($21,329,752)
- Jeff Teague, Timberwolves ($19,000,000): Opted in
- Harrison Barnes, Kings ($25,102,512)
- Kent Bazemore, Hawks ($19,269,662): Opted in
- Jimmy Butler, Sixers ($19,841,627)
- James Ennis, Sixers ($1,845,301)
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hornets ($13,000,000)
- Kawhi Leonard, Raptors ($21,329,752)
- Khris Middleton, Bucks ($13,000,000)
- C.J. Miles, Grizzlies ($8,730,158): Opted in
- Kevin Durant, Warriors ($31,500,000)
- Patrick Patterson, Thunder ($5,711,200)
- Dwight Powell, Mavericks ($10,259,375)
- Julius Randle, Pelicans ($9,073,050)
- Marvin Williams, Hornets ($15,006,250): Plans to opt in
- Aron Baynes, Celtics ($5,453,280)
- Bismack Biyombo, Hornets ($17,000,000): Opted in
- Marc Gasol, Raptors ($25,595,700)
- Al Horford, Celtics ($30,123,015)
- Dwight Howard, Wizards ($5,603,850): Opted in
- Nene, Rockets ($3,825,360)
- Nerlens Noel, Thunder ($1,988,119)
- Jonas Valanciunas, Grizzlies ($17,617,976)
- Hassan Whiteside, Heat ($27,093,018)